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Movie Review: 'The Descendants' offers a fine cast headed by George Clooney

The Academy Award nominated film "The Descendants," now playing at the Fandango Galaxy movie house in Carson City, is a hard-eyed romantic comedy with an ensemble cast headed by George Clooney, the only name star aboard.
Doesn't matter, this is a fine cast from Clooney as Matt King to Judy Greer as Julie Speer, wife of a real estate salesman who … but let's let that wait.
The film opens with a scene of an attractive woman riding a boat. She's laughing in the wind. This is before an of the opening credits. No explanation given or needed.

Then Clooney comes in to deny Hawaii, where the movie takes place, is a paradise, backed by scruffy scenes of the city. Matt King is a well-do-do lawyer as well as the sole trustee for 25,000 acres of land on Kauai which he is soon going to have to sell due to state inheritance laws. He is married but his wife is in the hospital in a coma from which he has been told she will not come out of.

He lives with his 10-year-old daughter Scottie (Amara Miller, fine as something other than the "cute" kid) while daughter Alexandra (Shailene Woodly, another real find who does more acting with the twitch of a mouth than most actors ever dream of) is off on another island recovering from addiction and a fierce dislike of her comatose mother, unexplained at first.

Matt and Scottie bring Alex home and while she is antagonistic about her mother she finally fells Matt that Elizabeth (Patricia Hastie, she of the opening clip) was having an affair with a man named Brian Speer (Matthew Lillard). Alexandra tells Matt this while swimming in their unkempt pool, and in a wrenching underwater scene she vents her grief.

Matt goes dashing out to friends' house where he questions the couple about the affair. They confirm it.

It's at the point the Clooney, with silver streaks in his hair, seems to physically shrink inside himself, as if the news was too much for him. He seems to lose body but gains moral structure.

But it's not all dreary. Lots of laughs of the right kind at the right times.
Matt tells his daughters that Elizabeth is going to die when they take her off life support, as she had requested at one time.

Matt and his daughters take a drive to a remote part of Kauai which is part of the trust. The scene is underplayed as a cousin explains where the golf course and hotel would go when the trust is broken up and sold. The view is indeed beautiful and the clash with modern business and natural beauty is understated.

Matt finally confronts his wife's lover who admits that it was just a lark for him, although he says Elizabeth loved him. As Alex and Matt leave Matt kisses Speer's wife Julie full on the mouth as a kind of signal that her marriage was not sound.

Later in Elizabeth's hospital room Julie (superb in her role) comes with a bouquet of flowers and in front of Matt tells the comatose Elizabeth that she forgives her for destroying her marriage and family.

Matt afterwards avoids the easy way out of also forgiving Elizabeth as well; instead he simply says goodbye with love.

There's a kind on interlude where Matt and his daughters add Elizabeth's ashes to the ocean. It's a quiet coda to Elizabeth whom we saw often in her hospital bed unmoving.

Matt then meets with all the cousins to announce the end of he trust and the pot of gold for all. But he reads the agreement and decides not to break up the trust but to fight to keep it intact --- as a family they owe that the Hawaii.

A quiet ending, fully in tone with the film as the three survivors settle on coach under Elizabeth's blanket, share ice cream and watch TV.

Director Alexander Payne (who wrote the final screenplay with others) uses a deft hand to meld all these elements into a rich whole. He doesn't stoop to sentimentality but touches it all with simple sentiment. He's fortunate to have such a splendid cast and an original such as Clooney to lead them. Oscar bound. Possibly.
--- Sam Bauman


  • George Clooney as Matt King
  • Shailene Woodley as Alexandra "Alex" King
  • Judy Greer as Julie Speer
  • Beau Bridges as Cousin Hugh
  • Nick Krause as Sid
  • Amara Miller as Scottie King
  • Matthew Lillard as Brian Speer
  • Robert Forster as Scott Thorson
  • Patricia Hastie as Elizabeth King
  • Mary Birdsong as Kai Mitchell
  • Rob Huebel as Mark Mitchell
  • Milt Kogan as Dr. Johnston
  • Laird Hamilton as Troy Cook
  • Michael Ontkean as Cousin Milo
  • Matt Corboy as Cousin Ralph
  • Celia Kenney as Reina

Directed by Alexander Payne
Produced by Jim Burke
Alexander Payne
Jim Taylor
Lawrence Gordon
Mark Gordon
Lloyd Levin
Screenplay by Alexander Payne
Nat Faxon
Jim Rash
Based on The Descendants by
Kaui Hart Hemmings
Music by Christopher Young
Cinematography Phedon Papamichael
Editing by Kevin Tent Studio Ad Hominem Enterprises
Running time 115 minutes, rated R because of language although that is a joke.

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On your “Must Not Miss” list, is the popular Downtown Wine Walk – held the First Saturday of every month from 1- 5pm. For just $10 (which supports the Downtown Business Association you’ll receive a commemorative wine glass and endless reasons to sip, stroll, and shop, the afternoon away, through Historic Downtown Carson City. Bring your wine walk glass with the Carson City Logo on it and pay only $8. Don't forget the after Wine Walk raffle prize party, 5:00pm, at the Cabaret Lounge, Carson Nugget Casino!

Tickets can be purchased at Bella Fiora Wines, Cactus Jack’s, Carson Jewelry & Loan, Carson Nugget, and Horseshoe Club, where you will receive hand stamps, glasses, and maps.

Sponsored by the Carson City Downtown Business Association, our goal is to carry on a local tradition, hosting an event which showcases a monthly Downtown celebration. It’s a Saturday stroll with a glass of wine through historic downtown Carson City where boutiques, local shops, galleries, restaurants and casinos, pull out all the stops to awaken your taste buds and tantalize your senses... experience a Downtown taste sensation!.

Carson’s full-service casino featuring:

  • Over 590 Slots – Certified Loose!
  • Single-deck Blackjack, 3-card Poker, Craps, Roulette
  • Poker Room
  • Keno
  • Two restaurants
  • Weekly live entertainment
  • 80 recently remodeled hotel rooms
  • Complete banquet facilities

Day R. Williams scored top of his law school class in Evidence and Constitutional Law, and he wrote for the Law Review. He is known as a fine legal writer. Day has practiced solo for more than 20 years in Carson City. He has handled contract disputes, personal injuries, bad faith by insurance companies, probate, estates and trusts, appeals, and a murder case. Day has tried cases and appeared in court in Carson City, Reno, Minden, Yerington, Ely, Fallon, Pahrump, and Las Vegas, and he has argued before the Nevada Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He was a driving force in the first citizen-initiated grand jury in Nevada’s history.


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Nevada middle and high school students and schools are encouraged to enter in the Nevada Prescription Drug Prevention Video Contest sponsored by Gov. Brian Sandoval and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.

This is an opportunity for Nevada students to get creative and use social media to promote awareness about prescription drug abuse and encourage their peers to stay away from abusing prescription drugs.

Winners will be selected from each Nevada school district. Final winners will be announced Nov. 3, 2014.

A very small earthquake measuring a magnitude 1.38 rattled Carson City at 11:54 a.m., according to the Nevada Seismological Laboratory. The quake was located about 2.3 miles east southeast of Carson City.

Go here to learn more.

Work on a critical construction phase of the Carson City Freeway Project has finished, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation.

Completion of the 2B-2 roadway project is considered a milestone, NDOT officials say. The project included roadway grading, utility relocation, extensive drainage facilities to channel storm water runoff and construction of an overpass bringing Snyder Avenue over the future freeway.

Tyler Turnipseed was named chief game warden for the Nevada Department of Wildlife Monday. He is only the fifth Chief Game Warden in NDOW’s history, a position that oversees all game wardens in Nevada.

Game wardens enforce wildlife and boating safety laws across the state, in rural areas and on Nevada’s waterways. Turnipseed is relocating to Reno from Winnemucca where he spent 10 years as the sole game warden for that growing community.

A Silver Springs woman was booked Tuesday into Carson City Jail on a felony warrant charge of criminal contempt, failure to appear in court, a Carson City sheriff’s deputy said.

Kathleen Elizabeth Campbell, 24, was brought in by Lyon County deputies on the warrant, filed July 28, 2014 out of First District Court, for failure to appear on a gross misdemeanor charge of possession of a dangerous drug without a prescription. She is being held without bail until a court date is set. In other arrests:

Here is this week's fishing report for rivers, lakes and streams in Nevada and Northern California. This report is for the week of Aug 20-27. Varying conditions exist due to extreme drought conditions.

The Carson City Fire Department is doing training exercises tonight at the Nevada Health and Human Services Office at 505 East King Street. The drill, a staged scenario involving a fire with people trapped in a building, began at around 8:40 p.m.

UPDATE: One person was taken by ground ambulance to Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center, according to Carson City Fire Chief Stacey Giomi. Also, a Carson City sheriff's officer noted that four vehicles were involved, not five as was initially reported to dispatch.

The Carson City Fire Department and sheriff's office responded to an vehicle accident with four vehicles involved, according to dispatch. The accident is in the 400 block of Hot Springs Road and was reported at around 3:38 p.m.
Arriving medical personnel were checking for injuries.

Sales of the third Nevada Sesquicentennial medallion will end Aug. 26, 2014 at 5 p.m. The medallion is the third in the series of four being produced throughout the year.

The third medallion features some of the Silver State’s legendary landmarks including the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, the Reno Arch and Wendover Will. Last month, Lt. Gov. and Nevada 150 Chairman Brian Krolicki invited Nevada students to participate in choosing the design. Over 200 classes participated in the contest, receiving close to 5,000 total votes.

Food For Thought Inc., a local nonprofit organization, would like to announce the selection of Marlene Maffei, as its new executive director. The selection was made after an open application process, during which Maffei served as operations manager for the organization.

“We are very pleased to announce this appointment,” reports Lynette Conrad Board President, along with the entire Board of Directors. “Marlene will bring great leadership and creativity to the program and strengthen community relationships. She has served the volunteer nonprofit sector in Carson City for over 10 years.”

Soroptimist International of Carson City will hold a "Meet Your Candidates" luncheon on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at noon to 1 p.m. (registration will begin at 11:30 a.m.) at Glen Eagles Restaurant, 3700 N Carson Street, Carson City. The candidates who will be speaking are:

The Carson City Fire Department has responded to a gas leak near the DMV Office, at Little and Oregon streets. Carson City sheriff's deputies are assisting with traffic control in the area of the leak.
The fire department has called it a working incident. It is unknown what caused the leak. No other information is available at this time. The call came into dispatch at around 10:40 a.m.

I am Nick Bowler of Troop 16 in Carson City. I am working on a food drive for FISH for my Eagle Scout project. There will be drop off locations at both Carson City Walmart locations on Saturday, August 23.

There will also be a drop off location on Sept. 6 at First Baptist Church on Mountain Street during their annual Block Party. FISH feeds over 300 families per month and their shelves are empty right now. They can use any non-perishable food item but really need protein like beans, tuna, peanut butter, macaroni and cheese or chili.

Students of Stephanie Fitch, of Dayton, Nev., a teacher at Dayton High School in Dayton, will be getting some valuable lessons this coming school year in learning the Holocaust as a result of their teacher having completed top-notch training this summer from educators of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Fitch was one of more than 200 participants who attended the 18th annual Arthur and Rochelle Belfer National Conference for Educators, an invitation-only three-day workshop for teachers hosted by the Museum in mid-July.

For 2012 and 2013 if your business purchased equipment, you could claim the entire cost as a deduction in the year of purchase (up to $500,000). Until the law for 2014 is changed, the Section 179 deduction is limited to $25,000.

For 2014 we just don’t know yet. Congress may elect to make the Section 179 depreciation deduction the same as in 2013, but they have not acted on that yet.

A 27-year-old Carson City man was jailed Monday on a gross misdemeanor charge of open and gross lewdness and domestic battery after allegedly throwing himself on a 16-year-old girl and kissing her, a Carson City sheriff’s deputy said.

According to the arrest report, officers responded to the 100 block of Carson Meadows at 8:35 p.m. regarding a dispute inside a home involving two large families having a barbecue. Both families live in the home.

Visitors to the Lake Tahoe Summit on Tuesday, August 19 will notice new gateway signs along three Nevada highways leading into the Lake Tahoe Watershed. Installed near Daggett Summit on Nevada State Route 207, Spooner Summit on U.S. Highway 50 and on Nevada State Route 431 the Mount Rose Highway, the decorative gateway signs read, “Entering the Lake Tahoe Watershed — Help Protect It!”

When visiting foreign countries, you can communicate knowing 30 basic words, facial expressions and hand movements including pointing. In Nevada when you hear, “We don’t do it like that in California,” do you have a knee jerk reaction? Be a great visitor. Learn how they do it in your host country. Taste foods you’ve never dreamed of tasting. Become the Marco Polo of cultural experiences.

Soroptimist International of Carson City with co-corporate sponsors Carson Tahoe Health and Tahoe Carson Radiology in association with the Capital Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Carson City Library Foundation present the 13th annual Stroke to Help Golf Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 27.

The tournament is at Eagle Valley Golf Course and the format will be handicapped 4 player teams on the west course and 4 player scramble on the east course. There will be a continental breakfast ahead of the tournament, which begins at 8:30 a.m.

An 18-year-old Carson City man was arrested Friday on three felony drug charges including suspicion of furnishing cocaine to a 14-year-old girl following a traffic stop, a Carson City sheriff’s deputy said.

Chase Morse was stopped by a sheriff’s sergeant at 5:47 p.m. in the 2600 block of Fairview Drive after he clocked the driver going 57 mph in a 35 mph zone. The officer asked for a K9 unit to respond because of a smell of marijuana in the vehicle.